New Zealand came to England on a cricketing mission to continue their recent dominance over the home side. Things have turned out otherwise in the first two Tests, but can the Black Caps win the third and final encounter?
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The Series So Far – the First Test
New Zealand came to England in the hope of putting in a good account and perhaps taking the series but the first Test ended up rather contrary to their desires. Many a Test is wrapped up with a day to spare and this was one of them, when Joe Root sealed England’s winning start on the morning of the fourth day. Root only needed 61 runs, and with Ben Foakes, his reliable batting partner, this was achieved at a canter.
It was a slightly lacklustre end to a Test that had begun with England in some serious trouble during the early stages, and New Zealand looked set to extend their winning streak over England to eight matches. It ended up being the first win England had enjoyed over the Black Caps in the last 17 encounters between the teams.
On the start of day three New Zealand had been 227 runs ahead, but lost six wickets for a meagre 34 runs, a collapse that many an England fan would recognise (and perhaps even sympathise with). This opened the door to an astonishing comeback, despite England themselves shedding early wickets in their second innings. New Zealand is in something of a transitional phase, but even so, this loss will have stung.
It also won’t have delighted those who backed New Zealand at a bookie. Cricket is among the top sports for online sports betting thanks to the complexity of the game and its popularity, although those new to wagering are better off focusing on major markets (such as Test or series winners).
The Series So Far – the Second Test
Obviously losing the first Test was a bad way to begin for the Black Caps, but the series has three legs, and losing the first does not mean the series is over by any stretch of the imagination. However, worse was to follow in the second Test.
It’s not uncommon nowadays for a Test to finish on the fourth or even the third day, but the second Test in the series went right down to the wire on day five. And what a day five it was, with agony for New Zealand and ecstasy for England. It seemed highly likely that a draw would be the result, as England had to make 299 runs from 72 overs, a target that many would consider pretty unlikely.
However, nobody had told Jonny Bairstow the odds, and the English batsman thwarted the efforts of New Zealand’s bowlers to rack up the second-fastest century by an Englishman in Test history and was a single ball away from matching the 120-year-old record. He did get out on 136 (achieved in 92 balls) but by then the sizeable task England had faced had been whittled down to a much easier target.
Perhaps the worst part for New Zealand is that they were asked to bat first and put in 553 runs in their first innings, yet still ended up not even being able to salvage even a draw. Psychologically, that is quite the blow to try and overcome going into a third and final Test with the series already lost.
How the Odds Stack Up
Played two, lost two does rather imply that the third Test will go the same way, but both of the previous matches did (at various times) look very dicey for England. Great individual performances from Root and Bairstow rescued wins from iffy starts but there’s no guarantee this will happen again in the third and final Test.
Odds vary according to sportsbook/betting exchange, but right now there’s around 2/1 available for New Zealand to claim the final Test and make the scoreline a more respectable 2-1 rather than a whitewash. England, however, are just below evens to take the win, with a draw available around 4/1. For those betting, the draw may perhaps offer the best value (but for Bairstow’s historic performance, that would have been the result for the second Test).
New Zealand’s lengthy winning streak over England has come to an end, but they have put in solid performances so far and victory in the final Test is far from impossible.